All good things must come to an end.
Today I am referring to spring breaks. Although I technically have one year left of college, it is not a traditional year with classes, exams, or scheduled summer, fall, or spring breaks. While I never took the typical high school or college student spring break trips*, I almost always went somewhere with my family.
*Total inability to tan + inability to swim, or even float + lack of interest in drinking alcohol = no interest in going to Florida or Cancun or any other sunny beach destination for vacation.
This year we only took a very short trip (4 days total) down through the Smoky Mountains to Asheville, NC.
We drove. And drove. And drove. About 8 hours later, we made it to the Smoky Mountains. We went for two very short walks–we more stumbled than walked since our legs had turned to jelly after spending the past 8 hours virtually immobile–and then headed to downtown Gatlinburg in hot pursuit of some fudge and taffy.
The first shop we tried were already sold out of fudge. Fortunately, Aunt Mahalia’s had plenty of taffy and fudge! Despite the amazing variety of other candies available, they sadly only had chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate with pecan fudge. I had been hoping for something a little more unique such as maple fudge, but oh well. Too make up for this disappointment, we also grabbed a small sampler that included some divinity and a gooey caramel and walnut concoction. Delicious. We continued on to spend the night in Waynesville, NC.
The single, major event of our trip was seeing the Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina. We had been there about 12 years ago, but I had forgotten almost everything about the first trip and I felt I would appreciate the tour much more this time around. As a general rule, most middle schoolers are not very interested in Flemish tapestries, marble fireplaces, and 150 year-old servants quarters. [To be fair, not many 20-somethings are interested either, but I’ve never claimed to be normal or typical.]
Since we opted for the self-guided tour, we got to move along at our own pace, which was nice. I prefer to look at Flemish tapestries and marble fireplaces for as long or short as I would like, rather than listening to a tour guide rattle on for 20 minutes about where these things were imported from and how much they cost. [Maybe I am not all that different than most 20-somethings after all…] I somehow managed to sneak into a guided tour and almost get trapped. Luckily I made my way out safely! The highlight was definitely the library. Bookshelves two stories tall, with a wraparound balcony, rolling ladders, and a magnificent fireplace. Oh, and did I mention the view of the North Carolina hills and mountains? AND A SPIRAL STAIRCASE?!
After an over-priced yet tasty cranberry chicken salad sandwich, we skipped the gardens due to the cold, and drove around the estate. We stopped at the Biltmore Farm, where my father harassed the chickens and mule. Well, really he just wanted to have the mule eat some grass out of his hand (despite the “Do Not Feed the Animals” sign approximately 3 feet away), but the chickens thought it was feeding time and raced across the pen to where my dad was standing. I’ve never seen chickens hustle in such haste before.
That evening we went for a drive around historic downtown Asheville and Montford before picking up the world’s most delicious pizza. We knew we wanted pizza, and we decided to try a more local pizza place rather than a chain pizza restaurant. We chose Black Bear Pizza. If you are ever there, definitely create your own pizza with feta, spinach, and pesto sauce. They also add mozzarella cheese, and their crust is divine. I only regret that I ate mine too fast to take any pictures.
We went on a scenic drive near Asheville in the morning, then headed back to the Smoky Mountains. It took longer than expected due to a road being closed because of a recent landslide. We braved the cold and walked about 3 miles. Not a lot, but better than nothing! We headed on to Knoxville, Kentucky to spend the night.
We headed home. The only thing of note, was that we of course had to stop for ice cream to keep the vacation tradition alive. Mmm, mint oreo blizzard…. Yeah, we are not the most healthy on vacation. Maybe it is a good thing we were only gone for 4 days!
My only regret (aside from eating too much) is that it was so cold the whole time. I kept accidentally thinking that it was fall break rather than spring break. Warm weather needs to get here NOW.